How to Avoid Golfers Elbow, Lower Back Pain, and other Golf Injuries

Golf is a great game, but it can cause short and long-term injuries and pain.  Golfers elbow or golf injuries to the back, wrist, hand, knee, shoulder, and hip are common and are usually caused by poor or compromising technique.

Fortunately, with proper technique and understanding of the golf swing, a golfer can have a pain free golf swing that will last a lifetime.

Golfers elbow and other strain on the shoulders, elbows, and wrists often start with:-

Right Hand – Strong Grip

To avoid slicing the ball, or even by not understanding how the right hand should be placed on the club to avoid injury, golfers often take the grip in the palm of the right hand instead of the fingers.

While this grip feels very strong the tendency is to grip the club very tightly. This will cause lots of strain in the hand and forearm which can lead to golfers elbow in the right arm.

In the golf swing, while the club wants to release or close through the ball, the tight palm grip fights against this, often causing strain and pain in the joints.

Right Hand – Weak Grip

To avoid hooking the ball golfers often employ what is known as a weak grip.

The weak grip has the reverse V formed by the right forefinger and thumb pointing to the left shoulder so that the right wrist is very much on top of the grip.

This causes the right arm to straighten and the right elbow to point out in the stance and backswing so that the arm disconnects or over folds. 

To get back to the ball in the downswing the golfer will need to do a lot of manipulation and over compensation to hit the ball well consistently. It can also cause considerable strain in the shoulder, elbow and wrist.

Left Hand

Gripping the club in the palm of the left hand, as with the right hand can also be a cause of golfers elbow and other arm strain and injuries.

With a proper finger grip the grip of the club sits under the heal pad of the left hand of the right hand golfer. In this position the club can be held with just the heal pad and left forefinger as demonstrated below.

The club can be held in the left hand with just the heal pad and forefinger


However if the club is held in the palm of the left hand, the grip sits on top of the heal pad, meaning that the grip must be held tightly so that it does not slip.

This type of tight grip can also cause the arm to be disconnected from the body in the swing which puts more strain on the arm and left wrist.

The pressure that this palm grip places on the hand and arm can be seen by the worn area and holes that form in the palms of the gloves of many golfers who employ this palm grip.

To protect the thumb and forefinger area it is also important to have a shortened left thumb as opposed to a long thumb which can cause a lot of pressure on the outside muscles of the forearm and the thumb joint.

The left hand grip with a short thumb

Short Thumb Left Hand Grip

The left hand grip with a long thumb

Long Thumb Left Hand Grip

How to take the correct grip to prevent golfers elbow and other hand, arm and shoulder injuries.

The Left Hand Grip

The grip should be taken in the left hand before the right hand.

To prevent injury the grip should be taken in the fingers and not the palm.

The club should run across the left hand from the first knuckle joint of the little finger to the second knuckle joint of the index finger.

Left Hand Grip with line marks to show where the club sits
The grip sits in the fingers of the left hand and not the palms


This grip allows for freedom of movement and alleviates strong grip tension that can cause or aggravate golfers elbow.

When the fingers are wrapped around the grip there should be no gaps and the heal pad should sit on top of the grip.

This allows for the grip to be wedged below the heal pad (marked 2) for a secure no slip left hand grip.

The fingers should wrap around the club so there are no air gaps
The heal pad sits on top of the grip

er on The grip should always be taken with the club shaft pointing at the belt buckle to ensure the hinge point of the left wrist sits above the grip.

There will also be a bend in the left wrist, with a shortened thumb just to right of the center of the grip.

The front on view of the left hand grip with the hinge pin on top of the club and he shortened thumb

With the wrist on top of the grip and the grip wedged underneath the heal pad, there can be a locking of the wrist in line with the left arm at the all-important impact position.

 Locked in club in line with the left arem for a great impact position


At impact there will be the minimum amount of strain on wrist and fingers. It will ensure the elbow is pointed more down and in towards the left or front hip. If the elbow continues to point at the target into follow through it places unnecessary strain on the arm and shoulder which can cause or aggravate golfers elbow.


The Right Hand Grip

The right hand grip should be taken after first taking the left hand grip.

Most importantly the grip of the club should sit on top of the second knuckle joint of the middle 2 fingers.

The middle 2 fingers are then wrapped around the grip so there is no air between the fingers and the grip.

The lifeline of the right hand can then slide down to cover the left thumb.


The middle second knuckle joints of the middle 2 fingers
The middle 2 fingers wrap around teh gri[
The right hand lifeline covers the left thumb

The thumb and forefinger of the right hand should wrap around the grip with a shortened right thumb just to the left side of the grip to protect the thumb and hand, and to avoid having the club slip.

Right hand grip with no gaps and a short thumb

A golfer should not fall into the habit of taking a grip like the grip below. It will only lead to slippage and swing compensation which can cause or aggravate injuries such as golfers elbow.

Poor right hand grip that will oftern cause slippage and injuries like golfers elbow

To avoid or prevent injuries such as golfers elbow, the grip should be soft but firm. You should never grip it tightly as it will only cause tension and place extra stress on the forearm and the little muscles of the hand.

Once the two hands are placed on the grip there should be no gaps, and the grip should feel oily and relaxed with freedom of movement.

Well assembled no gaps grip


When taking the stance it is important to bend from the hips so as not to cause lower back pain. Slouching can place extra strain on the back so the correct stance is most important.

It the golfer is too cramped or too far away from the ball  he or she will be out of balance during the swing which can put a strain on the body.

This stance is too cramped

Too Cramped

In this stance the golfer is too far away from the ball

Too Stretched

The balanced stance, not too cramped and not too stretched

The balanced stance, not too cramped and not too stretched

The Bent Right Arm

It is also essential that the right arm for the right handed golfer is also bent in the stance so that the arm can fold easily in the backswing. If the right arm is straight or rigid it is very difficult to get a natural hinging of the wrists in the backswing, which will lead to body adjustments trying to get into a top of the backswing position. This will cause extra strain on the body and arms, and contribute to golfers elbow unless you manage to bend the left arm to compensate.

The Correct Stance from the Front

In the correct stance, while the left arm
is straight the right arm is bent, with
the right elbow pointing as the right hip.

The Spine Angle

When taking the stance the golfer should not have the spine leaning forward in the direction of the target. This will cause a reverse pivot. In the takeaway the left would go down and the right shoulder up, putting a strain on the lower back.  Continually doing this can cause lower back injury. Furthermore, the arms in this stance will generally not be connected to the body pivot during the swing causing strain on the left arm, shoulder, elbow, and wrist. It is not a good way to avoid golfers elbow.

Incorrect golf stance spine alignment

Incorrect Spine Angle

Correct spine angle for the golfers stance

Correct Spine Angle

The right handed golfer’s stance should have the left shoulder higher than the right, with the exception being if you have to set up on a downhill lie or playing a punch shot into a strong wind.

Clubhead too forward in the stance

Having the clubhead too far forward in the stance will create a tendency to use the hands and arms more, so that the body gets blocked in the backswing. It puts strain on the arms and other body parts as you make compensations in the swing. 

In this stance that handle is too far ahead of the body

Picking the club up in the backswing with the hands and arms, as opposed to a handle first takeaway.

Picking the club up abruptly in the backswing can cause the left shoulder for the right-handed golfer to dip or cause a reverse pivot. This puts a strain on the arms, low back, knees and hips and contributes to golfers elbow.

If you try to pick the clubhead up too fast in the backswing is will often put a strain on the shoulders.

Similarly during the backswing, pulling the club the inside on the wrong path puts strain on the elbows and wrists.

It is essential for a body-friendly golf swing that the hands and arms remain in front of the chest even when the body is turned to its full in the backswing.

When the hands, arms, and hips work together you get co-ordination that puts the swing on the right path to avoid strain and injury.

This co-ordination is best achieved with a handle first, club head last takeaway, as opposed to a clubhead first, handle last takeaway. With a clubhead first takeaway it is very difficult to get consistent full hands, arm, and body alignment during the swing.

Trying to keep your head still

If you try to keep your head still after the downswing it can cause strain on the lower back.  It is important to avoid by to allowing the head to move in line with the rest of the body into the extension and follow-through.

Pulling down on the club in the downswing can cause lower back pain

When moving from the backswing to the downswing lower back pain and strain can eventuate if the left hip for right-hander is too far forward at impact and follow through. 

This problem often occurs when golfers pull down on the club in the downswing and delay the release of the club in an attempt to maintain a late hit angle. This often causes a sliding action of the lower body and blocks into the left hip causing strain in the lower back, the hip, and knees.

To overcome this problem the golfer should just throw the clubhead down and out at the ball across the target line. This action in itself will cause a late hit angle.  The harder you throw the greater the angle. It will also cause the body to rotate through the ball as though turning in a barrel.

Trying to keep the left arm straight in the backswing

If you try to keep you left arm straight in the backswing in an unnatural way you can put pressure on the arm which can contribute to golfers elbow.

While you want to have the left arm straight at the top of the backswing, the best way to do it is to allow the felt arm to rotate clockwise in the backswing as the clubface opens. This will naturally allow the left arm to straighten without undue strain on the arm.

Pain Free Golf for a pain free golf swing

Enjoy Pain-Free Golf
Comprising 35 Videos
How to avoid pain, strain,
and injury when playing your
favorite game, while hitting
the ball better than ever.

The Pain Free Golf ebook material is also available in the Croker Golf System Master Coaching Academy



Here is a list of very famous golfers: Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Danny Willett, Rory McIlroy, Brooks  Koepka, Jim Furyk, Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose.

What do these star players have in common?

Yes, all these guys have won at least one Major Championship.

But all of them had back problems or joint pain!

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” … advocates that the body moves in an anatomically efficient manner. Correct posture during stance, backswing and finish enable the golfer to hit the ball powerfully, placing less stress on the lower lumbar spine. “

Russ B. Smith

Head Physiotherapist 1996 Australian Olympic Team

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Executive Director
American Flexibility Institute

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So, don’t end up in pain like those golfers who didn’t know better. They are suffering due to an improper swing technique. Find out how to do it correctly!

For Peter Croker’s Swing Analysis of the latest PGA Winners visit the Croker Weekly News